Expectations are not high for the Pittsburgh Pirates entering the 2022 campaign. After another losing season, they have continued to stockpile young talent and build up the farm system. In 2022 they will be relying on their youth, with top prospects such as Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras expected to see significant time in the majors. While the offseason was full of tough goodbyes, they did add a few veteran pieces.
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Roberto Perez, C, One year/$5 Million
Perez comes to the Pirates looking to revitalize his career. He has battled injuries over the past two seasons and saw his production offensively drop. However, his value lies in his defense and ability to guide a pitching staff. He is a two-time Gold Glove award winner and has a .995 career fielding percentage. While the Pirates will miss Jacob Stallings bat, they have added an elite defender in Perez.
Jose Quintana, P, One year/$2 Million
With a staff in need of a veteran presence, the Pirates turned to Quintana. The 32-year-old is coming off of a tough season in which he posted a 6.43 ERA in 29 games. However, Quintana does have an impressive resume that includes 1,395 strikeouts and an All-Star appearance. He has been an innings eater when he is healthy, which will be critical for Pittsburgh. Although Quintana may end up being a trade chip, he brings valuable experience to the Pirates staff.
Pittsburgh added three players in the Stallings trade, including Thompson, who already has MLB experience. The right-hander got his first taste of the majors last year and posted a 3.24 ERA in 75 innings of work. As the Marlins staff was riddled with injuries, Thompson showed the ability to pitch out of the bullpen or rotation. Regardless of where he starts the season, the Texas native provides Pittsburgh with an upside arm.
Jacob Stallings, C, Miami Marlins
The Pirates’ biggest trade of the offseason was centered around Stallings. With one year left on his deal, the fan-favorite was dealt to Miami for three players. Stallings had a memorable run in Pittsburgh that included a Gold Glove award in 2021. While his leadership and clutch hitting will be missed, Stallings joins a Marlins team full of young talent.
Steven Brault, P, Chicago Cubs
In November, the Pirates said goodbye to one of their longest-tenured players in Brault. The former 11th round pick showed flashes of dominance but struggled to stay healthy. In 107 games for the Pirates, he posted a 4.77 ERA and struck out 291 batters. However, with the addition of Quintana, Brault became expendable and was designated for assignment. Brault was recently signed by the Cubs and could serve as an important depth piece.
Colin Moran, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
After four years in Pittsburgh, Moran was designated for assignment in November. He doesn’t have the most dangerous bat but has hit 45 home runs in 460 games. He will be replaced by Yoshi Tsutsugo, who thrived in the second half last season, and free-agent signee Daniel Vogelbach. The Texas native will provide the Reds with some pop and average defense.
#Pirates signed Yoshi Tsutsugo on 8/16. From 8/16 on:
-⬇️GB% (36.8%) and ⬆️LD% and FB% which coincided w/ an avg. LA change (increased from 14 to 19.1 deg.)
-Cut down strikeouts (from 33.1% to 22.9%)
-Barrel% ⬆️ to 10.5% from 1.5% pic.twitter.com/Dpx5RI27aP
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) January 16, 2022
While the Pirates are projected to lose at least 90 games, hope is on the horizon. Top prospects such as Cruz, Nick Gonzales, and Contreras impressed in spring training and should see time in the majors this season. Their performance will be watched closely and should bring out the best in former top prospects such as Cole Tucker. How they develop is key to the future of this franchise, as fans will finally get to see them at PNC park sooner rather than later.
Although the NL Central is expected to be competitive, the Pirates are not the only team rebuilding. The Reds have traded multiple vital pieces, and the Cubs finished under five hundred last year. In a division full of young talent, the Pirates have an abundance. They will also be counting on Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes to establish themselves as franchise cornerstones. The Pirates will likely finish in fourth place, but the future is bright.
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